tv Book Discussion on Frackopoly CSPAN July 9, 2016 2:00pm-2:58pm EDT
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>> and as the environmental policy director for citizen action. her previous book, the battle over the future of food and farming in america, was originally published in 2012 and has now been released in paperback, unveiled the corporate control of food in the united states. her latest book, "frackopoly," reports on the history of hydraulic fracturing, arguing that the rush to fracking is dangerous to the environment and human health. environmentalist and author bill mckibbon praises "frackopoly" as a truly powerful manifesto about one of the greatest environmental fights on our planet today.
and the huffington post calls it a comprehensive history of fracking in america. it's well written, timely and very important. we're very pleased to bring the conversation to harvard bookstore tonight. please join me in welcoming wenonah hauter. [applause] >> and thank you to harvard bookstore and all of you for coming this evening. so in the mid 1990s, i worked on a renewable energy project called powering the midwest. we knew in the '90s that renewables were ready, that energy efficiency was ready, and we really needed to make a transition. so a couple of years ago we had been working on frackinging at food and water -- fracking at food and water watch for several years as the first national group to call for a ban on fracking, and i started looking at some of the statistics about
how far we had come with renewables since the mid 1990s when i worked on this project. and it was stunning. as of 2015, only 5% of our electricity is generated from solar and wind energy. we need to do so much better. and yet here in a state like massachusetts where you're not really suffering from fracking but you are suffering from all of the infrastructure to really promote fracking and to allow it to expand. so i decided to write this book because you really need to know where you've been to know where you're going. and i wanted to see how we'd ended up with monopolized oil and gas industry that has so much power over our democracy and over the future.
so i started in, at the turn of the century, and i want to talk about that history tonight, and i mean the turn of the 20th century, not the turn of the 21st century. but before i get started on that history, i want to know how famiar people are with fracking. maybe i should start by defining it and talking a little bit about the impacts and why we care that there's so much oil and gas drilling and fracking across this country. come on in, there's plenty of room. so fracking is a science fiction-like process that uses large amounts of water, toxic chemicals and very fine sand. it's injected deep underground in a well, and then over multiple stages the fracking takes place. the wells are drilled about a
mile, up to two miles into the ground, and then a horizontal tunnel is drilled. again, it could be as much as a mile or two miles. then this toxic mixture of sand chemical -- sand, chemicals and water is injected under very, very high pressure in multiple stages to fracture the rock, usually shale, and to release the oil and gas. and although we're talking a lot about frackinging being for natural gas, since, since 2012 s been for oil. so what is this doing in the communities where the fracking is taking place? these are called sacrifice zones. there have been 140,000 wells
fracked in the last about ten years. and today 17 million people live within a mile of a well. and there's a lot of infrastructure to support fracking and the drilling and fracking for oil and gas. we're talking about thousands of miles of pipelines, compressor stations and processing facilities. now, compressor stations, the fracking and drilling itself, the processing facilities, all of these have a lot of impacts. they let a lot of chemicals, things like benzene, methane, a whole range of chemicals are emitted into the area that makes the people living near those facilities sick. and there have been, since 2013, 62 studies written about the health impacts.
94% of those studies show adverse effects and health impacts in living near where fracking is taking place or the compressor or processing facilities. now, let's talk about the water. fracking uses 50 times more water on average than conventional drilling. so we're talking for one well anywhere from 1.7 million gallons to 13 million gallons in a state like texas. lots and lots of water is used. and fracking, of course, is going on in some of the driest places in the nation, places like texas that have been having a drought, california. and in a state like colorado, frackers are actually competing with farmers for water in auctions and having a real impact.
now, when you're using injection to send all of this water and chemicals and sand deep underground, a lot of it comes back to the surface, right? and it's bringing not just those fracking chemicals. and we know that although the companies don't have to disclose exactly what the chemicals are, we know that there are over 400 chemicals that are used -- many of them carcinogenic or with other health effects. now, a lot of that water comes back up out of the wells. on average each day, about 10.5 billion gallons of water. that's a lot of wastewater. and it has to be dealt with. one of the ways that it's dealt with is by injecting it deep underground. it's called deep can well injection. -- deep well injection. and we know that that has its own impacts, right? earthquakes. and this isn't something that i just made up for the book, this
is something that the geologic service and a lot of authorities have now confirmed. fracking wastewater injected deep underground causes earthquakes. and many a state like -- in a state like oklahoma, it's been really shocking. before fracking started, there were one or two serious earthquakes over 3.0 magnitude. today there are as many as 5,400 earthquakes, that's a recent figure, annually that are picked up on, with seismic equipment. huge number of earthquakes. and this is happening in multiple states, ohio, arkansas. there are a lot of other impacts, but you can see that this is something if you live in a community where fracking is taking place, you're probably concerned about it. your family members may be sick,
having rashes, nosebleeds and even more serious impacts. and that's why there's a big movement that has sprung up in these communities against fracking and drilling which i'll touch on in a minute. but now i want to turn more to the story about how we ended up with an extreme energy practice like fracking taking place, why we're continuing to use fossil fuels even when our global climate is threatened. and as i was saying earlier, that story does begin at the turn of the 21st century when j.d. rockefeller, who you probably learned about in a history class, had rolled up the oil and gas industry, controlled 90 percent of it, used a lot of ruthless and unethical practices to drive other companies out of business and to really control a
resource that was very important at the time. originally, it was used for kerosene which people depended on for lighting their houses. now, around the turn of the century, well, some other companies formed. texaco and gulf were formed around oil found in texas. and in europe there were two other companies. i'm going to call all these companies by their modern names, because with the mergers and acquisitions through history, they've gone through dozens of changes. so we're talking about some very important companies that have done a lot of lobbying and have a big impact on where we are today. so the european companies are shell and bp. the u.s. companies were formed after rockefeller's standard oil
was broken up. and you'll remember from history that teddy roosevelt challenged the oil industry under rockefeller, and there was a proceeding, and they ended up breaking up standard oil -- rockefeller's company -- into about 30 companies. now, that's usually the end of the story. but, actually, that should be the beginning of the story, because standard oil wasn't really broken up. standard oil got to write its own plan, and each of those 30 companies with exxon actually getting about half the value of the original standard oil, rockefeller maintained an interest in each one. and the three rockefeller companies were exxon, chevron and mobil.
and, of course, we know exxon and mobil eventually were merged, and actually texaco and gulf also merged into chevron. so we're actually talking about four companies today. but for most, a good chunk of the 20th century, there were seven companies that were really almost dictating public policy. and the american companies had a huge impact on our tax policies, the research that was actually done for the oil and gas industry, the whole system of energy that we actually use today. and this got very dramatic in 1928, kind of the beginning of the oil and gas industry's drilling in the middle east. now, you'll remember that the middle east was created really
at the breakup of the ottoman empire by france and britain, and the oil industry was already there and interested in the resources. so in 1928 when oil was found in iraq, the big oil companies -- the seven, they're called the seven sisters named after a greek mythological story of atlas' daughters who fought amongst themselves. but if there was ever an attack on one of them, they all gathered round and protected her. so they were nicknamed the seven sisters. and that's kind of how they behaved. so when this oil was found in iraq, there was a lot of overproduction. so the seven sisters got together in one of their cabals, drew a red line around or the middle east, made an agreement amongst themselves that they would only go in and drill for
oil as -- jointly. they would never go in alone. this was so that they could watch one another. and that they would actually limit production, fix prices and break basic antitrust laws. now, soon after this agreement was made, the three largest of the seven sisters -- exxon, bp and shell -- met at a castle in scotland and decided on a set of principles for how they would actually accomplish this price fixing and moving forward together to break basic antitrust and monopoly laws that we have in this country. and they met periodically after that. meanwhile, they were having a big effect on the rules that were being written and the laws that were being decided on.
prior to world war ii and then after world war ii. but let me step back a minute and talk about the utility industry a little bit, because today we have this cabal of the oil and gas industry, the big electric and gas utilities and actually the banks which i'll get to in a little bit. but in -- well, the oil industry was rolling up and really dictating the rules around oil and gas drilling and discovery. there was a man named samuel insole who was doing the same in the electric utility and gas utility industry. he did something that's similar to what happened with the housing market in 2008, 2009. he actually owned, had an ownership in about 5,000 gas and
electric utilities in 30 states, but there was a holding company structure or we would call it a multi-national corporation today, and the participant company kind of milked -- the parent company kind of milked these utilities charging them big rates and fees for services. meanwhile, he had investment companies, a number of them, and he sold the stock over and over and over again to these different utilities. and this all contributed to the crash of the great depression. now, i'm talking about this because it actually has a big impact on policy today. so when roosevelt came into office, there was a lot of activity around trying to curtail what the oil and gas industry was doing, what the electric utility industry was doing and then what the financial services industry at the time was doing. there were a couple of laws
passed that i want to talk about because when they were repealed, it really allowed fracking and the oil and gas industry to blossom and created these giant utilities. so the first one was kind of an arcane law that you may never have heard of before, but what it did is it actually regulated electric and gas utilityies so they had a fox -- had to focus on their main business. they couldn't gamble with rate payers' money, they needed to have contiguous service operations. and it really dictated the structure of the industry, keeping it from getting too big to fail. so that was one law. it was called the public utility holding company act of 1935, but you don't really need to know that. but they weren't able to get natural gas included. in fact, that law that i just
talked about was probably the most controversial law in the early years of the roosevelt administration. there were 600 lobbyists in washington lobbying against it, large sums of money were spent, and and it passed by one vote. and they managed to keep natural gas out of it. so three years later they came back, and they were actually able to pass another law regulating the natural gas industry, because a lot of consumers had been really ripped off, and there were urban cities that were angry and organizing to try to do something about consumers not having access to affordable natural gas which was very important for heating and for electricity generation in some places. so this law did something important, it regulated the price of natural gas, and it gave the authority to a governmental body called the
federal policy commission. and they used the cost of what it actually, what the oil and gas industry had to pay to do, to get the resource out of the ground. and then a profit that they added to it which was between 5.6 and 6.5% over a 40-year period. pretty good for the times. so this was called cost-based regulation. well, the natural gas industry despised this. they also, the electric industry despised the other law that i talked about. this natural gas act also regulated pipelines. so you just couldn't go around and build pipelines and get ferc to approve it. there was actually a process to see if the pipelines were necessary. people could be involved in the process.
it was a hot more dem -- a lot more democratic. well, then there was a big debate for the next really til the 1970s. and in the book, i talk about a number of characters who played a big role in this. some of them are really villainous to. many of them are big characters. one that comes to mind is bill kerr who was, first, a governor of oklahoma and then a senator elected in 1948. big belly, wears a white suit, has a big ten-gallon hat on. i have some pictures of him. he's actually the great nephew of aubrey mcclendon. for any of you who actually follow this industry, he just died mysteriously. he was a big fraker at chesapeake -- fraker at chesapeake and driven out of the company for bad behavior. so this is a relative of aubrey
mcclendon. kerr introduced legislation for the oil and gas industry every year to do away with the natural gas act until he died in 1963 from a heart attack while in office. there were other characters like john j. mccoy who's a favorite villain. he worked for the rockefellers' chase bank and was someone who for the next -- well, he worked as an adviser for nine presidents. he's part of that government that exists that's not elected, but that's always there as an adviser. had a major impact on public policy in a lot of different ways that we don't have time to go into. but he was the antitrust, harvard-trained antitrust lawyer who time and time again stepped in to get the oil and gas
industry exempted from antitrust laws. a lot of the times they were just sneaking behind the scenes to do this. and, you know, it matters. this has been a debate since the beginning of our country. remember thomas jefferson wanted to have part of the bill of rights, the right to be free of monopolies. and he didn't care about the price of gas or price of food. what he cared about was the political power that you get when you are such a large company that you're bigger than most countries. and that's what happened to the oil and gas industry. so big that really, especially after world war ii, they could just dictate public policy and laws. and remember that the amount of oil consumed, drilled for and consumed after world war ii doubled. and part of that was its use for plastic. and also, of course, the industry was able to make sure
that it was used for lots and lots of other things that other sources of energy might have been developed. but they really were able to dictate a lot of how our tax dollars were used. so i want to now fast forward, because we don't have that much time, and i want to talk about what happened when these important laws were under attack and repealed. and i guess the story really begins -- well, we'll start it with the nixon administration. there were a lot of people in the oil and gas industry very concerned about the environmental laws that were beginning to be passed and the movement, student movement, the real changes in society. the oil and gas industry were concerned about the environmental piece of this, but you'll remember there was the
warren court extending rights to people, categories of people who hadn't enjoyed those rights before. there was the movement against the war. there was kind of a youth uprising. there were a lot of both conservative interests, conservative social interests and then a lot of corporate interests that didn't like to see how the country was changing. they helped elect richard nixon, ask they also -- and they also after richard nixon was elected, he promoted some of the people who would weaken our democracy, people like louis powell who went on to be a supreme court judge. you may remember him. he's the supreme court judge that wrote the first opinion saying that corporations have the right, the same rights to participant in elections -- to participate in elections as people.
he also wrote a very important memo. and if you aren't familiar with it, google it when you get home. it's called the powell memo. some people call it the powell manifesto. and what he did was he was a very savvy man. he wrote out a plan for how corporations could take back the democracy, and it was a long-term plan around how the most important institutions were actually going against corporate interests. he talked about the media, faith, the university, all of the major institutions were actually helping to support this rewriting of the rules in the u.s. including the environmental laws. so this memo laid out a
long-term plan for how to undo this, and louis powell helped raise a lot of money to make this happen including money from the koch family, the coors family, a lot of the very conservative economic interests in this country. and they did, in fact, weaken our democracy and our political system by creating this. now, i talk about this in relation to the oil is and gas industry because they were key to this. and when president carter came along, there was a lot of pressure on him. and, in fact, democrats started receiving corporate money at this time as well because the campaign finance laws began to change. so one of the things that he did, you'll remember there was a, an oil problem because opec was angry about u.s., the u.s.' foreign policy. and so there were long lines for
gasoline. and when carter came into office, one of the things he said he was going to do was have a new energy policy. and he, he put together a plan to do away with the federal power commission that was regulating natural gas pricing and pipelines, created a new agency called department of energy that brought together all of the different federal agencies that were working on energy, and he created the federal energy regulatory commission that now oversees pipelines, electric wires and a lot of the infrastructure for energy. and it was given more and more power over the next decades. but that's really how it began. and also under the carter administration, the rules around natural gas prices and pipelines were rewritten.
they called it natural gas deregulation. but what it actually did was rather than having a process to look at the price of gas, see if it was fair for consumers, see if pipelines needed to be built. now this was all deregulated to let the markets select what the price would be and if pipelines should be built. but really what it was was rewriting the rules to benefit the oil and gas industry. and that natural gas deregulation was finalized under the reagan administration. and since that time we've had more than 936,000 miles of pipeline built since the deregulation of pipelines. and we have more pipelines being built all the time. and a lot of the pipelines today
actually aren't -- we don't even know how many there are because states now govern this, and a lot of pipelines aren't regulated at the state level. the smaller lines called gathering lines. so there are many more pipelines. and if you count the ones that were built before deregulation, today we have about 2.5 million miles of pipelines in this country. and it's enough to circle the globe a hundred times. and now we're building another 40 years of infrastructure which is really hard to justify considering climate chaos and what we face in the future. the next thing that happened was electricity was deregulated or the rules were rewritten. they were rewritten many a way to actually incentivize natural gas and smaller natural gas plants. and more recently in 2005, we've
seen a lot of other rules changed to really incentivize fracking and natural gas. under the bush administration in 2005, the energy bill, energy regulatory bill of 2005 was passed. and it had three benefits for the oil and gas industry. one most of you are familiar with, the halliburton loophole which actually exempted the oil and gas industry from the safe drinking water act. the other two benefits are less well known. one of them is the repeal of that bill i talked about, the public utility holding company act of 1935. that was repealed, and its repeal means that utilities could get as big as they wanted, they could engage in any kind of activity including the trading
and the peculation on the -- the speculation on the stock market that was forbidden before. in fact, natural gas wasn't even really traded before the 1990s. and today we now have 20 giant utilities that operate in this country and provide more than 50% of power. they use the all-of-the-above strategy, and they are encouraging fracking and really a party to it. and the other thing that changed in the energy policy act of 2005 -- i didn't have the name quite right before -- is that it gave ferc, the federal energy regulatory commission that was created under the carter administration, new and big powers. it put ferc in charge of the environment, putting it in charge of our most important
environmental law in terms of building new things. that's the national environmental policy act that requires that an environmental impact assessment, study be done to the look at the environmental impacts. so this agency that has almost never seen an oil or gas or electricity project that it doesn't love now is in charge of doing the environmental assessments. and it also gave it the power of eminent domain, superseding what states and localities can do and giving it the ability to condemn land for pipelines, interstate pipelines for transmission lines. and it has really spurred the development of pipelines and fracking. so i've spent a lot of my time tonight talking about the bad things. i'm going to end by talking about the hope and the good things.
and i think that's in the -- that in the election you've been able to see that a movement has been born around fracking. that's why we have candidates for the democratic nomination for presidency debating fracking. it's because a huge movement has group up around this country -- has grown up around this country. people are saying we don't want to do what's just politically possible. we want to have a future, we want to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and we don't want fracking. and there have been some big victories. a ban in new york, a very hard-fought ban, a moratorium in maryland, and they're going back for a ban this year. your own senate has passed a moratorium, and we'll see what happens in the house. hopefully, you'll have your own moratorium. there have been more than 500
measures, either bans, moratoriums or some local measure against fracking across the country. there are major campaigns taking place in about 15 states including states like colorado and california where there's a lot of drilling going on, but there's an aroused citizenry. and i think it's really exciting that the movement is growing so big. and what we have to do for the future is really keep organizing and keep our eyes on the prize. we really need to stop saying that renewables are going to come about because the market's going to do it. if the market was going to do it, it would have already happened. we need to fight for the public policies that are going to bring us a renewable future, that are going to allow us to use energy efficiency, that are going to save the planet for future generations.
we don't need 40 more years of infrastructure and a climate that is threatened and local communities that are threatened. so at food and water watch we look forward to working with folks to keep this movement going, because i do know that we will be successful in the long term. so we can do questions now. [applause] >> and just if you have a question -- yeah. okay, yes. >> oh, okay. thank you. well, isn't it also true that the price of natural gas has declined to historic lows? >> well -- >> and yet these energy companies are mostly on the verge of bankruptcy. >> well, i think when you look at the history of the oil and gas industry, this is one of the things that has allowed the consolidation. i don't think i mentioned that
exxon is the largest fraker today. the four companies, chevron, bp and shell, they're all amongst the ten largest frakers. and their history really is boom/bust. and when there's a bust, they pick up a lot of smaller companies. so, you know, i predict -- and i would probably place a bet on this -- that within the next two years, the price of oil and gas will go back up unless we can really curtail what is going on now. the industry wants to export oil and gas. remember, they're not -- first of all, it was for energy independence, and then when there was too much of it, they advocated for being able to export oil which had been illegal since the 1970s. and they are lobbying to build liquified natural gas plants
that would also allow the export of gas. so those prices will be going back up. >> [inaudible] >> that really is the history of the industry. they will, they'll export it, and they'll get ahold of it. that's the kind of the strategizing that they did throughout the 20th century to, you know, they weren't always able to stop production. but i would predict that pretty soon based on history the price will go up. i mean i have a graph of the actual ebb and flow of the oil industry, and it really is. it goes like this. another question? >> oh. oh, okay. i live between cambridge and tulsa, oklahoma. and oklahoma now, besides being, you know, the tornado capital of
the world, the earthquake capital of the world, okay? just in the past couple of years. it happens almost every day, like a 3.0, 4.0. i mean, it's not anything like san francisco, but it's amazing. and what very few people know is that actually from st. louis through texas you have the new madrid fault. now, apparently, the last time there was activity on this was when all you had were tepees. so even though there were probably eight and nine, you know, richter type of, you know, earthquakes, it was like 1814. i mean, it knocked over tepees, didn't matter. but there's a lot of problem now. what you're talking about with the water, with the wastewater, and we, you know, the thing about it is the industry is very, very powerful in oklahoma. but there are so many people who are being badly, you know, impacted by this. i didn't realize -- i knew there was a problem with the fracking. i didn't understand why the
water was getting bad. because a lot of these places, you're talking about farms that are actually using well water. and this is getting into the well water. >> yes. thanks for your comment. >> yeah, i'm sorry i arrived late, so i didn't really hear the talk, but i have friends locally in new york state and have a friend here who's involved in trying to stop a pumping station. >> yeah. >> but what i've found in the rural communities is it's also an issue of economic justice. and i don't know if you've addressed this at all. you go the farmers' market, and you can talk to the farmers about some of them opposed to it, some of them are for it because it's very difficult to survive are. real communities are disappearing. they no longer will be stewards of our lands in these areas to fight this kind of thing. so there has to be a long-term strategy for economic viability of these communities. >> it's an excellent point.
my last book was called foodopoly where i really addressed how our rural communities, our agricultural areas have been left with, basically, no hope for the future because of corporate agriculture. and that is how the landsmen who go in and sell leases, they prey upon people. they were especially able to do it before people even knew about fracking. people are trying to save their family farm. but it's really harmed these commitments. you look at a state -- these communities. you look at a state like north dakota that has had booms and busts from agriculture and actually oil too in the '50s. and so there's a lot of development when the transient workers come in. i mean, their population tripled, quadrupled in some areas. they build hotels, restaurants, what they call man camps, housing for these people.
and it also brings a lot of crime, and the lifestyle is also really affected. but then when the price plummets, all that investment -- and some of it is public investment for roads and other infrastructure -- it's gone. it's not really a long-term strategy for economic development even though some people do benefit in the short term. it also, one of the things that we see a lot of these communities is the divisions, the people who had the ability to sell leases, who sold leases and made money, and they're affecting their neighbors and the anger. there's a lot, there are a lot of sociological effects to this. i mean, obviously, we need to reorient our economic system so is that we have people in rural communities able to make a fair living. it means a complete reorientation of our food
policies, our economic policies. but one of the reasons that i wanted to write around energy is because of the short-term threats and because we need to get energy right, and we can create a lot of new jobs if we're doing an energy platform that's really about helping people and not helping a few dozen companies. that's because energy efficiency has huge potential. i mean, we need to retrofit just about every existing building. we need actually to have federal funding to get some of this underway. we have to reorient our political system, obviously, to be able to do this. but we decided to engage in this fight at food and water watch because, you know, there's really no choice if we're going to save our global climate. and we find that people really want to fight for what they want.
they're tired of, you know, these incremental changes that might have some effect. and so we need to talk about what the policy changes are and then fight for them. and i'm excited that we're even talking about fracking during a presidential election. we all know how difficult it is to get an issue to rise. and i have big hopes for even after the election for all of the really millions of young people who have been energized by current events. i mean, we're really at a historical moment. so we have to keep up, keep our hopes up. but it includes having new policies for rural areas too. yes. >> yes. my questions have to go with, you know, ferc. i've been part of a group here in massachusetts that has worked diligently for the past year and a half to stop one of five
fracking pipelines, one being very close to where i live. i've personally gone to meetings from the conservation commission to the supreme judicial court of massachusetts, personally written to warren and markey with about 40 e-mails as well as five or six meetings in their offices, thousands of signatures have been collected and hundreds of other organizations. and what it always come down to is sort of the fix between new england, the local gas distribution companies and ferc who's made up mostly of oil and gas industry lobbyists. so, you know, i've been looking at some articles about some of these closed-door meetings that were held with mark callpin, and it's a complete revolving door. i'd like you to really delve of into as much of that as you possibly could. because we've even had people in massachusetts approach cheryl
lafleur who refuses to meet with us, but will meet in closed-door meetingsing with the oil and gas industry, her former cohorts. so please delve into that as much as we can, and what can we all do to combat that system? because it is so fixed. that's why they probably call it fix ferc first. >> well, and you outline a tremendous problem in our movement. and i think we're going to, over time, have to fight to not reform ferc, but to eliminate the agency and to start over again with an agency that really is looking at these issues and not doing the oil and gas industry's business. because what we have found -- and we are with our 16 offices involved in a lot of these local battles -- what we've found is that you can stop pipelines in states that have some kind of local process, it could be local permitting. i know in new york state there
have been an lng plant and pipelines stopped, but that's because a decision was made by the state. when you have ferc making the decision, there's really, they're not a democratic institution. they're doing his of the oil and gas industry. nobody really knew much about them until this fracking debate started. and i would say that the problem that you have with your local electricity market and you mentioned the iso, that's all a result of the deregulation of electricity creating that wholesale market so electricity could be bought and sold. we're going to have to get rid of the system and put into place actual mandated. i -- mandated. i know it's not a popular subject, but we need to speak the truth about this. the way that the system is, has been created today, there's no way that you can really get the
renewables and the energy efficiency development that you need. it's all been fixed. so it's fixed -- it's probably get rid of ferc. right now while we're having this discussion there's actually a coalition of some of the pipeline groups having a meeting. i think it's going to have to be a much broader coalition of all of these groups. i mean, there are people fighting pipelines all across this country from the northwest to down in texas not too far from el paso. all over the country. and we need to get together to, first of all, take away their power of condemning land and to given to build the political power to have a different energy system and to actually get rid of ferc. i mean, we need a department of energy that actually creates the plan to get us off of fossil
fuels and nuclear power, right? we don't need an agency, i mean, about 80% of what they have spent at department of energy over the last 30 years has been for dirty energy. so we really need to have a whole new plan for energy, and i think a lot of it's beginning with this movement to the ban fracking and the global climate justice movement that wants to keep fossil fuels in the ground. >> we have time for one or two more questions. >> okay. >> in terms of sort of the relative balance of evils and trying to find, like, a silver lining in the whole existence of fracking, i wonder what you make of the fact that for all of its problems, the fact that it has dramatically increased the u.s.' sort of domestic stores of natural gas, oil. it seem to be accelerating the demise of coal. >> well, yes, but one of the things that i didn't talk about is threat that natural gas -- we
know oil is a threat because of carbon. but there's a lot of recent science looking at natural gas. and natural gas is mostly meth p thain, about 95% methane. it turns out that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. the first 20 years after it's emitted. and, of course, the next 10-15 years, surely by the next 20 years, we need to have a new energy system. so natural gas is actually, when you look at the threat to the global climate -- and this is not me speaking, this is scientists at cornell and elsewhere -- it's actually as big a threat to the climate in the first 20 years after it's emitted since it's a hundred times more potent than carbon is in the first 20 years. and so we really need to get off of natural gas. it's not a bridge, it's actually a bridge to nowhere.
and it's a bigger threat to our global climate. you know what upsets me so much is the idea that we would be building another 40 years of this infrastructure. i mean, the banks are literally investing and loaning billions of dollars to build all of this infrastructure that's going to last for decades. that's why we know it's not a bridge fuel. this is just an excuse and a way to try to buy people into it. and, you know, we need to stand up and say, no, it is not be -- it's a bridge to nowhere. one more question? >> i came in a little bit late as well, and that is not my phone. [laughter] in terms of, you covered a lot that i'd like to dusker of course, but the methane, obviously, is something i knew about bigtime. the subsidies, can you comment about the oil subsidies, the control they they have? i know there's grassroots movements all over, but what can
we do to go back to the question, what can we do locally, where can we tap into to kind of raise the awareness? as we know, the power vacuum owns the media. big oil, koch brothers, you can go on and on, but they keep getting the subsidies, and that money's not moving towards renewables. so that's one piece of it. plus, they don't want to get off of it although we know they knew 30 years ago it was greenhouse gases and global warming back then, they knew about it. which is criminal and that's a whole other conversation. how do you address the subsidies? do you know people we can work with to approach that piece and then the broader piece of getting the messaging out there where it belongs besides your web site? >> well, i do think there's a whole social media, and i won't call it underground, it's an alternative media system. because we know that the consolidation in the media, you know, in 1984 there were 50 major immediate -- media
organizations and it was already consolidating. today there are six. and i have a chart in the book that shows the interlocking boards of directors. so, you know, there is an alternative, and i think we could give you a lot of that information if you talk to one of our organizers after this. i mean, there's a movement in almost every state, and it has to be directed at building political power to those people who are elected, and we can't get them -- let them get away with this. and even here in liberal massachusetts you have liberal members of congress like your senator warren and senator markey. we have tried to get senator warren to introduce the bill that we were able to introduce in the house. we have 37 sponsors in the house. it's a bill to ban fracking on public lands, you know? pretty easy, not a real big ask. haven't had success with that.
with either of your senators. so i think one of the things that you need to do here in massachusetts is try to create some leadership that could be used in the, to begin with in the democratic establishment. because what we find is in a lot of the states where we're working with democratic governors, you know, from rhode island to pennsylvania to colorado to california, they are supporters of fracking. so we need to get our, you know, more liberal democrats with the program, and then we can start working more broadly. and we need to do it right away. and, you know, the subsidies are shocking, and they've been going on for decades. i mean, i talk about some of the tax benefits like the golden gimmick that's been around since 1948 that gives american companies a tax benefit if they
produce oil in saudi arabia. i mean, there's a lot of outrageous stuff that goes on, and that's because of their power. and i will say that fracking itself, the technologies that came together to allow fracking, many of them were actually perfected and paid for by federal tax dollars. so we do have a lot of work to do, but let's get these elected officials, especially the ones that say they're really representing us to do the right thing to begin with. and i'd also like to invite you all to get involved with food and water watch. i know there are a lot of local groups, but we really pride ourselves on fighting back and taking, creating the political space to actually do what we want to do with our future. and we have a lot of opportunities to get involved in local organizing on these issues and would love to have you join our list. and, in fact, if you aren't familiar with food and water
watch and would like to get on our list right away, i could have you take out your phone and text frackopoly to 69688. >> 69866. [laughter] >> there's a piece of paper in front of me, and i had a moment. 69866, text frackopoly to it. okay? thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much, everyone, for coming. as i mentioned, the book is for sale at the registers in the next room. we'll form the signing line up the center aisle and have it at this table. and also i have a quick announcement that someone left their keys in a cab, and the cab driver brought them back, so they're at the information desk. if you think you lost your keys in a cab, go to the information
desk. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they're reading this summer. >> well, you know, i've been reading three books right now. i'm kind of an eclectic reader. i've been reading dead wake about the sinking of the lucetania. i just finished three felonies a day which is a book about how policymakers when they're not specific can create legal problems for citizens that were unintended. it's a fascinating book for a policymaker like me to read. and then finally, i'm in